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Can We Trust the Pastoral Council?

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He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

If you attended the Saturday 5 PM Mass at St. John the Baptist as I did, you had no doubt that what was “first” was “first” and what was “second” was “second.” We must love others, but we must love ourselves before we can do that. But, even before we do that, we must love the Lord our God. We must worship Him and work to fulfill His plan in our lives.

If you attended the Sunday 8:30 AM Mass at St. Peter’s as I did, you barely heard about “the greatest and first commandment.” Instead, you heard Some Facts about Rappahannock County… You heard the gospel according to People Incorporated of Virginia. You did not hear about our obligation to seek and love the Divine. Rather, you heard about our social responsibility and heard statistics about relative incomes and ages in the county.

Perhaps it would have been more helpful had we been provided statistics about those who have left the Church and those who have no church. Perhaps it would be more Christian to have expressed concerns for souls that need to be saved and how to bring back the lambs who have strayed. Without quoting encyclicals and learned scholars with many titles, it comes down to this:

Catholic Social Justice = The Corporal Works of Mercy + The Spiritual Works of Mercy

We must organize our Catholic lives with equal parts of both components. Despite two millennia of Catholic social pioneering in charitable works, hospitals, medicine, orphanages, etc. (think of Mother Theresa), our new Pastor wants to lead the flock of St. Peter’s toward his unbalanced view of social justice which ultimately depends on alliances with non-Catholic organizations that have no concern for human souls.

Today, Fr. Grinnel provided definitive evidence that at least some of the new Pastoral Council members are not necessarily speaking for Parish members. Rather, they are closely aligned with the Pastor’s view of social justice and community action no matter what Parish members might think.

The member on of the Pastoral Council that provided “Some Facts about Rappahannock County…” is an employee of People Incorporated of Virginia. What is People Inc.? (Please see: www.peopleinc.net )  Is that something bad? No. But, it causes an eyebrow to raise. Why? People Inc. is affiliated with the Community Action Partnership. Is that something bad? No. But, the fact that www.Community-Wealth.org lists the Community Action Partnership as a Community Development Corporation along with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) makes me begin to wonder. In any event, none of these organizations are Catholic. This all begins to look familiar – almost like what was going on at St. Charles Borromeo prior to June of this year.

Why are we only hearing from the pulpit a discussion of social ills, minus the spiritual or Christian component. Why are we not hearing about Catholic solutions for what troubles the people of Rappahannock County? This also causes me to wonder.

What am I wondering? I’m wondering if our new Pastor is following his old template? Is he looking to the Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky or the Rules for Radical Pastors by Gordon E. Simmons for guidance on how to deal with social problems rather than today’s Gospel in Matthew 22? Is it possible that he is reverting to his reliance on organizations similar to VOICE and the IAF and methods and means that are more worldly than spiritual.

We, the flock of St. Peter’s, did not vote for the current Pastoral Council members. Yes, we can see what they are proposing at www.stperparishva.org and perhaps we can provide input to them via Email. But do we really have a say in what goes on. Or, are we being manipulated, is the Parish being manipulated? Is the Pastoral Council merely an instrument to support the new Pastor in molding St. Peter’s to conform to his template according to his agenda? – Remember the “Tidal wave of change.”

Perhaps my title for this post is not quite correct – Can We Trust the Pastoral Council?. Actually, we can trust the Pastoral Council to provide the answers the new Pastor has wanted all along.

The Pastoral Council is composed of many good people. Even in my short time in the Parish, I have met some of these people and know in my heart that they want the best for St. Peter’s. Yet, I know how easy it is for someone following the Rules for Radicals to use a Pastoral Council to achieve their own ends. The insert in this Sunday’s bulletin Some Facts about Rappahannock County… is based on a purely socioeconomic view of the county. And, based on his past actions, that is the perspective that would our new Pastor would take. Consequently, the insert serves him well, but it certainly does not tell the whole story. Nevertheless, our new Pastor was able to display the insert boldly and quote from it frequently – and all under the cover of the Pastoral Council.

My discussion in this post has been more direct than in the past. My apologies to any whom I may have offended. Offense certainly was not my intention. My wife and I have seen these type of things before and we know where they can lead. Perhaps, it would make more sense for me to say simply that when it comes to acting out the Gospel message, we (St. Peter’s) may be in the world, but we should not be of the world. Let our acts of charity and our love for our neighbor spring forth from our Catholic identity rather than from community organizing groups. And let us always keep our love for God our Creator as our greatest desire.

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